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Advice I would give to my younger self

Advice I would give to my younger self
CSAP Graduate, Ursula O'Dwyer, reflects on how she started a career in technology - something that she thought was out of reach.
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Advice I would give to my younger self

Ursula O'Dwyer
Cisco Systems
Sales Account Manager

May 08, 2017
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I had always dreamt about how great it would be to work in the Technology industry, because of all the amazing and innovative initiatives that change the way we live, work, communicate, and have fun. All during high school and University, I was daunted by technical subjects and thought I wasn’t good at them (in hindsight, I was good but definitely lacked confidence). My perception was that one must be very technical to be able to be a part of the IT industry.

If I could give my younger self any advice, I would tell her a few things:

Firstly, don’t talk yourself out of Maths and Sciences subjects in school because you don’t think you’re good enough. You are good enough, and you shouldn’t be put off that easily.

Secondly, to be in the IT industry, you don’t have to have studied IT. There are so many different  paths, and many areas for career opportunities in Technology, and as long as you are passionate and willing to learn, great companies like Cisco will invest in your learning.

And finally, don’t have what I like to call ‘tunnel vision’ - just because you studied one thing at University, it doesn’t mean you’re locked in and can’t pursue a career in another area. Remember that you have strengths outside of what your area of study that can lend itself to other career paths. Whether it be your public speaking, open-mindedness, curiosity, determination, or people skills – leverage them!

Admittedly, when I was strolling through the aisles of my university career fair, I thought I knew what I was looking for – a marketing graduate role. Pushing through the hordes of other potential candidates looking to make a great impression, I remember feeling overwhelmed to say the least. ‘What do I want to do with my career?’ ‘How can I make a difference in the world through my work?’ ‘I’d love to work in IT but I have no experience?’

This got me thinking about how as a young person in this modern world, there is no one way to do anything anymore. The same applies for your career and life goals. To be successful in anything that you do, you must be open and adaptable, willing to learn and embrace change – now more so than ever before. So when I saw the Cisco sign at my careers fairs, I thought – “The only thing that’s stopping me, is me”.

I was lucky enough to speak to Cisco representatives that day, and they showed me that the opportunities within a technology business are very different than what I expected. Cisco made me realise that I can add value to the world and to people, through a career in Sales. The CSAP program enabled me to bring together skills from various aspects of life (including my business degree!) to be able to make a difference and be part of an amazing company! They urged me to apply that day, and I am so glad that I did – I am proud and lucky to work for an amazing company that saw something in me that I perhaps didn’t at the time.

I am absolutely loving my role, and I’ve not stopped learning since day one! The CSAP graduate program gives you unparalleled training, and our development is a main priority. In the program, we are trusted to do our jobs well, we have amazing benefits and support from the business, and I come to work everyday wanting to perform at my best.

This story is part of a series penned by graduates of the Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP). To find out more, visit the CSAP Facebook page and Career Page.

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